PA Bill Would Legalize Marijuana as Therapeutic Option

In Harrisburg, some legislators are pushing for passage of a bill that would make Pennsylvania the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana — if New York and Maryland don’t beat them to it.

Pot is hot.

Just ask Lisa (not her real name).

“Let me shut the door,” she said during a telephone interview from her Downtown office where she works for a financial institution. A self-described “urban professional and mom” and wife of a successful lawyer, she likes to sit in her sleek, granite-and-maple kitchen in Squirrel Hill on Friday nights and de-stress with a joint.

“I do it once a week,” Lisa said. “It’s a nice release from the week’s tensions, and I can feel my body calming down — and it’s less calories than wine,” she added with a laugh.

Even as the drug war continues to rage along our nation’s borders and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website declares marijuana to be “dangerous,” even as Congress refuses to repeal its declaration that smoked marijuana is without “current medical benefit,” recreational use of marijuana has continued unabated in this country.

A recent Franklin & Marshall poll found that 81 percent of Pennsylvanians supported making medical marijuana legal — up from 76 percent in 2006. But a medical marijuana bill was introduced only a year ago in the state House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor oppose it.

The measure has not come up for a vote in either chamber. Still, medical marijuana’s passage in Pennsylvania is only a matter of time, said Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, sponsor of the House bill.

“There’s real momentum” for the bill, said Mr. Cohen, whose father suffers from Crohn’s disease. The time has come, he believes, to expand medical options to alleviate patient suffering, citing research that has found marijuana can be therapeutic in treating Crohn’s, cancer, glaucoma and other debilitating conditions.

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